Presented on Wednesday, October 1, 2008 in the Barn at Quarry Farm. We'll never know, but someone could argue, and probably has, that Mark Twain would have been Mark Twain no matter what. Would have been mark Twain even if he - or even if Samuel Clemens - had never met Charley or Olivia Langdon or visited Elmira or Quarry Farm. That would surely have been a different Mark Twain, a Mark Twain with no Livy, no Langdons, no perch at the top of East Hill looking out across the Chemung Valley. How did Quarry Farm matter in sorting the Mark Twain we've come to know from the many Mark Twains that might have been? And how, we might ask as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Langdon's gift of Quarry Farm to the world, via Elmira College, has it mattered to us?
Jeffrey Steinbrink is Emeritus Alumni Professor of English Literature and Belles Lettres at Franklin & Marshall College. He is the author of How Mark Twain Survived Sam Clemens' Reformation (1983) and Getting To Be Mark Twain (1991).